JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Matt Blunt‘s top aides last summer ordered all departments to delete potentially damaging emails, one of Blunt’s former attorneys claims in Jackson County Court. Scott Eckersley says that Henry Herschel, Blunt’s chief counsel at the time, called a meeting of staff attorneys and told them that “all email should be deleted” despite protests that the emails are public records.
Eckersley also claims that Ed Martin, Blunt’s chief of staff, told staffers “to make sure they deleted their email in the both the inbox and trash files to ensure they did not have to be turned over to the press or public.”
Blunt’s aides also ordered the state’s backup computer tapes to be destroyed and talked about communicating through Blackberry text messages that are not captured on email systems, the suit states.
Martin resigned and Herschel moved to another job, amid criticism of the administration’s handling of emails.
Eckersley was fired as deputy counsel on Sept. 28. He claims he was fired after confrontations with Herschel and Martin about the emails. He accuses the administration of defaming him.
Blunt’s office released a statement saying the lawsuit did not have merit and was political.
Blunt’s aides have alleged that Eckersley was fired for poor performance, for conducting legal work for his father’s health care company on state time, using drugs and using his state computer to access a sex site.